Mt Shasta North Side
14-16 Jul 2003 - by Lee Richardson
Ellen and I attempted Mt Shasta from the north side Sunday-Wednesday, 7/13-7/16.
- We did a leisurely trip in. Drove up Sunday evening and stayed in a motel in Red Bluff. Dropped off Ellen's dog at a kennel in Redding Monday morning, picked up rentals and trail passes in Shasta City, had lunch and drove up to the Northgate trailhead. Hiked to 8500' Monday afternoon, to 10k' on Tuesday, then I climbed Wednesday morning. We're both usually in much more of a hurry. It was nice to have plenty of time.
- The weather was warm and glorious; we were in shorts and tees up to 10k'. A weather front came in Tuesday evening, with ominous cloud cover, but was gone by morning. It was clear and not windy the rest of the time. A downside was that you could almost watch the snow melting while the sun was out.
- Sun cups above 10k' are huge in places, and there's not much snow below 10k'. We'd planned to ski down from 13k' or so, but there was no way. I misinterpreted the somewhat cheery reports on the Fifth Season information line and believed that skiing was in fact possible; if I knew then what I know now, the skis would have stayed on the car.
- There were lots of buzzing things, meat bees as such, that sounded fierce but never did anything. The mosquitos at sunset at 8500' were thick. A windbreaker and snow pants kept them confused and at bay, unlike other places I've camped. We had one or two hummingbirds that followed us around, up to about 12k'. At one point I watched a small brown bird seriously heckling a chipmunk, similar to a mockingbird chasing a cat.
- The north side had three parties- 4 people in a commercial tour plus 2 guides, 5 people in a crevasse rescue team doing practice, and me/Ellen. We were all there for 3 days. Nobody in the commercial tour made it- half the party got altitude sick, the other half were too slow to meet the guide's 'must turn around at the six-hour mark' requirement. I think half the rescue team made it up. Ellen felt awful Wednesday morning and stayed in the tent all day. So of the 13 people on the north side, 4 of us got to the top.
- We all did the Hotlum-Bolum ridge route, with the variation around the right side up at the top. The other parties were all roped, with rock helmets, which seemed like overkill given that we all stayed off the main glaciers.
- My time up, starting at 6:00a from 10k', was 7h10m, time down was 2h30m. For any other data junkies out there, the gallery includes a screen shot of my heart rate and altitude versus time, from a Polar recording heart rate monitor. I'm getting to the point where I can't walk upstairs without tracking my heart rate.
- I ran into 3 other people on the summit, two guys climbing together and a third guy that came up the trail just as I was leaving. Didn't see anyone else.
- The snow started getting soft about 9:00a; I'm glad I didn't start any later. Glissading down was very fun, once I figured out how to control my speed (and remembered where to stop so I didn't slide into the Hotlum bergshrund).
- The Berryvale Grocery in Mt Shasta City has added a good cafe. It's a natural foods store with similar stuff behind the cafe counter; surprisingly flavorful items, almost too much so in one case. Decent morning coffee, too. It's a block down from the Fifth Season. We also got a late dinner at the Black Bear Diner on Lake St. I'm not much of a diner fan, but would go back - creative presentation and items. Note that the Black Bear claims to be 24hr, but closed at 11pm Wed. evening.
If anyone sees serious errors in the picture annotations, please let me know. After three days of staring at both the images and the topo, I think everything is matched up, but I may have mis-named a glacier or two.
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